More women approaching middle age had abortions last year than teenagers, official UK figures revealed.
The number of abortions among over-35s – who are likely to be juggling the pressures of careers, mortgages and relationships – has been steadily rising.
Meanwhile the rate among girls under 20 has almost halved in the last decade as there has been a dramatic fall in teen pregnancy.
It also emerged more than half of abortions – 54% – were for women who said they live with a partner but were not married.
Experts said it suggests that as couples leave it later to settle down there is a growing instability in relationships and women may find their partner is not committed enough to start a family.
The figures, from the British Department of Health, showed there were 185 596 abortions in England and Wales last year, 228 fewer than in 2015. There were nearly 44 000 among girls under 20 in 2006, but last year there were just 24 371.
But abortions among over-35s topped 30 000 for the first time, reaching 30 471 – up from 28 562 a decade ago.
Patricia Morgan, a researcher on the family, said: "Women are leaving it later and later to form relationships and families. Some drift into partnerships with men who are not committed, and who are not prepared for a family. The result is abortion. I think this is becoming a big issue."
Pro-choice groups said the figures show abortion should be more freely available. Ann Furedi, of abortion provider BPAS, said: "Our society trusts women to make their own choices when faced with a pregnancy they cannot continue with, and we need an abortion framework that reflects that."